Murray's RD Obsession
By Anthony van Someren - 21 Dec 12
Whenever we put a Stroker up on the Bike Shed's Facebook pages, or into Spirit of the Seventies, the web-traffic and Like-O-Meters all go crazy. There's obviously something deep-rooted in our love of the old stinkwheels that first brought narrow-powerband joy (and fear) to the wrists of a whole generation of bikers. The Yamaha RD 350 is perhaps the epitome of this genre of teenage biking, and this RD is one of several that Murray Pawluk recently put togeher with a group of pals in Edmonton in Canada. Here's the story in his own words. (We'll brace the servers for extra bandwidth and step away from the racks while you all enjoy the read...) "Growing up on a farm twenty miles north of Edmonton Alberta Canada where my father also ran a snowmobile sales and service in the 60's and 70's, there wasn't any shortage of two stroke recreation vehicles. From snow machines, boats, mini bikes, trikes, quads and dirt bikes. I soon realized that NEVER could this farm boy trust himself in the general population on a street bike. Every time I threw a helmet on, the Pavlovian response was full on WFO thrill circus. Then in my late teens and twenties living in the city, it became harder to get riding time together with the guys , and I found riding dirt by myself was too dangerous. In my early thirties I sold my dirt bike, moved to Vancouver, then Chicago without ever revisiting the idea of two wheels on the street . This worked out pretty well, until one fine day at the coffee shop with the village idiots (that's what we call my morning coffee pals) some guy pulled up on a Suzuki Titan, and the sweet smell of that two stroke awoke the blue smoke monster in my 40 something brain, and I decided that minute, that we all should have snappy retro two strokes for the street. My coffee pals also had dirt bikes that maturity, and city living had stole from them, and by the following day we all had numerous bike listings off the web. The race was on! Many brands and types of bikes were talked about with everyone going in different directions.One would assume my upbringing would lend itself to a modern motard, but cafe style racers were the bikes that I never got to explore, but always admired. Realizing my need for speed has always contributed to the need for lots of parts, I recommended we all get the same bike for parts efficiency, This narrowed the field to a bike I knew would deliver the best bang, or should I say "suck bang for the buck". A little bike that was a big selling under dog with race pedigree and interchangeable and after market go fast parts for multiple years and displacement. The Yamaha RD was our choice in 2003. Three idiots buy four RD's, let the modifying begin. My background alerted me to the highs and lows of 70's Japanese bikes, although comparatively good in their day, many advancements, and go-fast technologies had been introduced to make them more reliable, and even quicker . The thing that surprised me most wasn't the barely up to snuff electronics of the day, but the industry leading 70's disc brakes were beyond tweaking. The rear suspension needed to go mono in my opinion. Get rid of the stock 70's kung fu kick riding position with some rear sets. None of these changes were new. Guys have been tweaking these bikes from day one, and the parts were getting pricey in the new world economy. This, and my fiscal pragmatism led me to the morphing of another long time, best selling, abundant parts bag known as the Kawasaki ninja. The ninja 250 remained virtually unchanged for ten years, making the parts and pieces I needed to upgrade the RD's suspension and brakes, very affordable. While the weight and price of the parts went down comparatively, it was better than free horse power, which it was. Less than half rotating mass of the 16"mag wheels, and the more than capable feather weight single disc, make a dramatic difference. I could blab on for days about what you can see in the pictures and other bikes and builds but, I enjoyed these bikes so much I just had to share these affordable customs with a crowd I enjoy. Thank all of you for sharing your toys." Murray Pawluk It's a smell that never leaves your nostrils and brings back decades-old memories whenever there's a sniff of it... This is exactly what the Bike Shed is all about Murray. Thanks for being a part of it.